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ABB delivers HMI upgrade to Swanbank E power station in “virtually” no time

ABB has upgraded the complete human machine interface (HMI) system at the Swanbank E power station with the latest control system and IT technology

Swanbank E is a highly efficient 385 megawatt (MW) gas-fired combined-cycle power station, located in Queensland, Australia. Owned by Stanwell Corporation Limited, Queensland’s largest electricity generator, Swanbank E featured the largest gas turbine in Australia when it was commissioned in 2002.

The control system consists of ABB Advant AC160 / AC450 controllers for gas turbines (Egatrol 8), steam turbines (Turbotrol 8), and all DCS applications, including the water-steam cycle and balance-of-plant. The original HMI solution fr om the late 90s was built on Unix-based Advant OS500 operator stations and an IMS (information management system) with Optimax performance monitoring functions included.

After 10 years of successful operation, the customer decided to upgrade the control system “to ensure continued reliability, availability, functionality, data security, and OEM hardware and software support of the operator interface until the end of the serviceable life of the station 2023.”

Although the plant’s original control system hardware was meeting performance expectations and is actively supported by ABB, on the HMI side the Advant OS500 operator stations and IMS historian were nearing the end of their working lives. In addition, these days Windows-based solutions are more commonly used than Unix-based systems.

An upgrade solution for this plant was found thanks to ABB’ s strong commitment to product evolution without obsolescence and the Advant platform. It is ABB’ s System 800xA for Advant Master, combined with the Power Generation Information Manager (PGIM).

ABB has installed this combination in many similar CCPP plants around the world, in both OS500 upgrades and gr eenfield installations. It is the perfect replacement, providing all OS500 and IMS functionality in addition to the full power of Extended Automation System 800xA, but for Swanbank E ABB went even further.

The ABB System 800xA solution is not just a one-to-one replacement of the old operator stations and IMS, but a full system architecture upgrade incorporating the latest technology and concepts. The most radical change includes the complete virtualization of all HMI servers based on VMware ESXi® server technology (see box).

Replacing obsolete PCI-based RTA boards with Ethernet-based PU410 units and completely decoupling the process network from the server hardware meant server virtualization was the way forward.

Virtualization simplifies how servers are managed and maintained. Running multiple virtual machines on a single physical machine drastically r educes hardware requirements, operating expenses, and incr eases availability. All HMI servers including PGIM and Optimax now run on two physical servers, making no compromise in terms of availability and reliability.

Virtualization enables an enterprise to better manage updates and rapid changes to the operating system and applications, and can dramatically improve the efficiency and availability of resources and applications. Following the successful HMI upgrade, ABB optimization and process specialists also retuned the existing Optimax performance monitoring system and upgraded all controllers to the latest firmware versions
to improve and correct performance. This also enabled use of the latest Windows-based engineering tools for the Advant platform to simplify maintenance and control application tuning.

From the start of the project, it was clear the schedule would be very tight and had to be aligned with the concurrent C-inspection of the turbine itself. In addition, this was not just a case of ABB delivering the new control system hardware and installing it as approved by the customer during FAT. From the beginning, there was also a str ong requirement to make use of Stanwell’s existing IT infrastructure. For this, ABB duplicated parts provided by the customer in the test-lab for all engineering and testing activities, including FAT. Again, this task was largely simplified with modern server virtualization concepts.

Close cooperation with Stanwell personnel during planning, testing and commissioning enabled ABB to execute the entire project within 6 months. The upgraded system was installed and commissioned within a fixed three week time limit. As the new system was commissioned, the new virtual servers were integrated into the customer ’s network and IT infrastructur e, and the complete MB300 pr ocess network was upgraded and cleaned up. Plant operation and supervision was not interrupted.

In addition to the expertise of many experienced engineers, this achievement relied on the advantages of server virtualization technology combined with the flexible architecture of ABB’s Advant and 800xA platforms.

Main data

Application: Gas fired power plant
Capacity: 385 MW
Technology: 800xA
Geographical location: Australia and Oceania
Year of commissioning: 2002

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